Amsterdam (Round 2!)
As I was relaxing in the evening at the home where I was couchsurfing in Utrecht, I perused Facebook for a bit. When I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw a picture of my friend Carly alongside one of Amsterdam’s many canals. Taken aback at first, I shot her a quick message and found out that she indeed was in Amsterdam! It turned out that one of her college friends, Caroline, and her mother had booked a week long trip to Paris and Amsterdam to relax, as her oldest sister had just gotten married. The youngest sister was supposed to go on the trip with Caroline and her mother, but couldn’t go at the last minute due to work commitments. Since they were unable to cancel the plane tickets that close to the trip, they ended up inviting Carly to go along as well!
I had already booked a Flixbus to my next planned destination, Hamburg, Germany, for the following morning. Luckily, Flixbus allows you to cancel your trip up to 15 minutes before, and will give you credit to use for another trip. Since I wasn’t on a tight schedule, and Amsterdam was (kinda) on the way (only about 60 kilometers from Utrecht), I decided to do a spontaneous trip back to Amsterdam to see Carly! I hadn’t seen friends from home since Alex and company came out to see me in Thailand for 2 weeks back in January, and was eager to catch up with her. I made plans to take the train early the following morning and meet them downtown after checking into a hostel.
The short train ride went without a hitch, and after checking into a hostel (my first one since I had arrived in Europe almost a month earlier), I met up with them at their hotel! After catching up and briefly recounting my 7+ months of travel thus far, we set out to explore the city. Since I had already spent 5 days there just over a week before, my plan was to go with the flow and tag along with their plans.
One thing they hadn’t done yet was the Anne Frank House. I was able to book a last minute ticket during their scheduled time frame online, and set off for Round 2! I honestly didn’t mind going through the museum a second time, as I had found it very interesting the first time. There were even a few new facts that stuck with me that I hadn’t remember from my first tour of the premises.
After the Anne Frank House, we grabbed lunch at an outdoor cafe in order to enjoy the sunny, albeit chilly, weather. Caroline’s mother, Annie, was very interested in hearing of my travel stories, particularly in Africa and India. It was nice to have a bit of a captive audience, as I hadn’t talked in-depth about some of my experience in awhile. Annie was also very generous in treating us to lunch, as well as the Heineken Experience, and dinner later that night. It was a nice feeling, and reminded me a bit of my mother back at home.
The Heineken Experience
Next up, was the Heineken Experience. Having already done a tour of the Stiegl brewery in Salzburg, and the Guinness factory in Dublin, a few years earlier, I had elected to pass on this tour when I was in Amsterdam the first time. Now I was eager to do something I hadn’t done on my first trip. Even though it was a bit pricey, I have to say that I think, it was worth every (Euro) cent. The tour and exhibits were very interactive, much more so than Stiegl’s or Guinness’s. One of the more interesting parts was when we participated in a virtual reality simulation where we were the “bottles” and went through each step of the process from start to finish. We also got to walk through the stable where the Heineken horses are kept. (Sidenote, I wasn’t aware that Heineken had horses to begin with, as I had always associated horses with Budweiser). I also enjoyed seeing the different advertisements for Heineken around the world, both print and video. Of course, I can’t forget the two free pints that we were given at the end of the tour, a great way to cap it all off!
As it was mid-afternoon, and we were all a bit tired, we agree to part ways for a couple hours to rest and relax before dinner. We went to dinner at a place called Luden, and boy was it delicious! We dined on white asparagus, mustard soup, and salmon, one of the better meals I’ve had in Europe thus far. Annie decided to call it a night after dinner, but Carly, Caroline, and I went to a nearby bar called, Gollem, that had over 200 types of beer! I had gotten in touch with my friend Julian, to see if he could meet up with us. He unfortunately had an interview the following morning, so he wanted to rest up for that.
The following morning I met the girls at their hotel for breakfast before saying goodbye. I had a Flixbus scheduled to take me to Hamburg, and they had a bike tour planned that they had booked awhile ago. Even though my Amsterdam Round 2 trip was a mere 24 hours, I had a great time spending it with them and seeing Carly again!